Y-Combinator: We Think the iPad is Meant to be a Windows Killer

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Y Combinator's sixth request for startups (RFS) is more than a little provocative, stating that they think Apple's upcoming iPad is meant to be a Windows [and Mac OS X?] killer:

Most people think the important thing about the iPad is its form factor: that it’s fundamentally a tablet computer. We think Apple has bigger ambitions. We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer. Or more precisely, a Windows transcender. We think Apple foresees a future in which the iPad is the default way people do what they now do with computers (and some other new things).

They think that while developers won't like Apple's control, users will love the price and that it "just works". Further, the opportunity is there for devs (and their investors, 'natch) to provide the apps people will want -- and more interestingly -- create apps no one has even thought of yet. (To do for the iPad what spreadsheets and web browsers did for the desktop).

Oh, and then there's business:

One particularly interesting subproblem is how to introduce iPads into big companies. This will probably have to be done by stealth initially, as happened with microcomputers. They'll have to be introduced as something individuals use, and which doesn't really count as a computer and thus can't be vetoed by the IT department. Don't worry about this; it's just a little tablet computer.

Y Combinator does seed funding for startups, so they're going to be putting people's money where their mouths are on this. While there's likely a good deal of purposeful hyperbole injected in the "Windows killer" line, could there also be some truth in it?

[Y Combinator via Daring Fireball]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Y-Combinator: We Think the iPad is Meant to be a Windows Killer

30 Comments

I'm still stuck on the form factor for things like...if they do include a webcam, how the heck are you going to use it? You going to prop it up against your old laptop? Pray that you can cam and talk and not have to type at the same time? Just not feeling it as a full computer (desktop or laptop) replacement.

I think I might wait for the second gen to get one and just focus on upgrading my iphone to the next model, if it doesn't disappoint.

you will never kill windows. U wouldnt believe how much enterprise market they have. How many corperations are built on Windows Server. I do think they will make a great end user product but server....no one can touch windows server the are the ones who rule.

I am definitely waiting on the 2nd gen ipad if nothing changes. The idea is brilliant and we will eventually all be using ipads or ipad clones for our casual computing, but what they showed in January is just not far enough along. I'll wait for apple to invent "live chat" amongst other software, OS improvements before I buy one

Many of us having been using convertible tablets for many years... I had a TC1000 (the original slate PC) back when they first came out... the problem is there is SOOOOO much more people do on a computer that just can't be done in that form factor. I think the slate/tablet idea can work for 70% of the average home users out there but it will not displace PCs in the workplace or for serious PC users that use things like Photoshop and development tools on a PC/Mac... To me that is more of what a phone is for... you can already update your twitter/facebook on a phone... why use a larger one that is harder to carry around with you... and videos, etc???? The TV is where that stuff belongs in the home, not on your lap... there is a use case for the iPad but it isn't the be all end all that this company is saying it's going to be.

Kill Windows !?! I hope not ! Windows is capitalism ,Apple is communisim. Say what you want about windows but it's an open system where ANYBODY can create a program for that OS with out having to ask permission to have it on that OS ( a la apple app store process ) . That kind of system would have set us back years !

The ipad will be a failure, in no way shape or form is the ipad a windows killer. What I see after the hype has worn off and the speculation died down is a devise that I have no need to use, my phone works just fine. And let be realistic, am I going to take this Thing on a jog, bike ride, or on the bus? No. Am I going to take this thing on the road to get some work done with that wonky keyboard? No. So what is it, it's a big boredem filler, I usually am not bored. Now the Dell mini 5 now that is an iPhone killer let alone a ipad killer.

I think it's really going to depend on how easy the iPad is to type on. Too hard to tell without actually using it. If it's easy to type on, then I would say it could really be an "internet appliance" which is the only thing some people need (email, surfuing, etc).

I don't have a high regard for this "an X-killer" lingo. One product killing another product is extremely rare, like a movie "blockbuster" or pharmaceutical "blockbuster." Saying that the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer is essentially saying, Apple intends to sell a lot of iPads. Wow, thanks for that careful analysis.
Windows has like 95% of the market for computers. The iPhone has 99% of the mobile web browsing market, which is itself 1% of all web browsing. I think it's a reasonable conclusion that Apple can make a ton of money without making any appreciable dent in the market as a whole.
Chrome OS is more likely to signficantly reduce the number of existing Windows NT/2000 computers in enterprise -- a fast, secure, self-updating OS that runs on cheap, energy efficient hardware is a perfect internet terminal. We're talking about $200 per machine or less.
If there's one thing the iPad will kill, it's the slate tablet PC running Windows. That's a really really small part of the market, and Windows never has done well in that form factor.

I have to say, the ipads only draw is as an ebook reader, but I don't know. E-ink just seems cheaper and better though out. Also, easier to replace should it get smashed.

Really, a windows killer? Are you kidding me? Unless 4.0 rolls out with some major enhancements this thing is nothing more than an enhanced e-reader. Sure it will be nice for sitting on the couch browsing the web and sending an occasional email or adequate for sitting on a plane and reading a book. What this doesn't do is redefine anything let along kill anything. How is this going to replace even the most basic PC's when you can't do some of the simplest functions.
Am I going to take it with me in place of a netbook/notebook to a clients place of business? Nope, non-standard connection ports makes projecting from it difficult. of course there's a dongle for that.
How about taking it with me to the library before class or to a friends place to finish up that paper/project I as working on. Nope, not likely. God forbid I need to print something out. Yeah no printer support is going to work out great. Sure there are apps out there that allow printing, but last I checked no multitasking or shared memory support natively in the OS and copy paste is not very elegant for printing.
I could go on but why bother. For a specialized device that fills no real problem the iPad will be about as successful as AppleTV. Sure it works for some people, but there are many other solutions that do the same things and don't fall victim to Apples tyrannical policies and controls.

I think it will be a big hit but I do not see it replacing a desktop computer at all. If you compare the two it's like apples and oranges in terms of power, capability, things you can do not to mention the elephant in the room "Multi-tasking". On a computer I can have Word, Excel, Photoshop all open on the screen just sized and beside each other and I can jump from window to window doing work. I know not many people work that way but you can if you wanted to and that is just one small pin head sized drop of the capabilities of a desktop. Just think about playing a game like COD Modern Warfare 2 on an iPad? not very likely unless you have a whack of external peripherals and at that point why bother. I will be getting one for sure but I think saying it will replace desktops is just taking it a little too far.

Agree that Windows is so entrenched in corporation-land that replacing those PCs would take blood, sweat, tears, a trillion dollars, and more than a decade (my major bank employer's still on XP cuz just upgrading to 7 is too expensive). Also agree you're not gonna edit film or layout magazines on an iPad. BUT the new paradigm of iPhone OS is gonna eat a whole lotta netbook/laptop sales over the next few years, and many of those could well be corporate.

Killer? Not really.
But it can definitely make a dent in Windows sales for the home. I'm kind of a geek, but since having an iPhone, I find myself using my iMac less and less at home. I read news and science papers with iPhone, do my emails with iPhone, play games, watch video and music with it as well. I'm one hundred percent convinced that some 60 or so percent of current home desktop users don't need desktops at all. I cannot see myself abandoning a desktop/laptop at home in foreseeable future, but I definitely gravitate towards the handheld. And the iPad will only push that even more.

Now that I'm over my rage against "Windows killing," I think there will be multiple issues involved in introducing the iPad into enterprise settings. It will work in particularly well where an enterprise user's job is primarily to access information or to fill out forms without entering large amounts of data. There are plenty of enterprise functions like that, but any task requiring copious data entry will push the task towards notebook PCs. Also, most electronics today are designed to work only with PCs: audio recorders, digital cameras, mp3 players, printers, barcode scanners, smartphones, etc. The iPad will have a very hard time where there is a need to access most other electronics devices that generate digital media or existing computer peripherals.
On the up side, the 3G data plan at $30 per month could represent a lot of potential cost savings; so there are a lot of mobile uses (like in trucks, with GPS tracking and 24/7 communication and routing; real estate; etc.) where the iPad could be used in place of a smartphone or PDA or notebook with GPS and cellular data. That's in part why I think the data plan is one of the most important features of the iPad: it represents a savings of $720 plus tax and fees per unit over two years, which more than offsets the cost of the iPad 16GB + 3G module to the end user. However, since the 3G plan can't be shared, that's not a guaranteed hit with large-scale enterprise, just with small businesses.
Finally, the design of the iPad is prohibitive in certain scenarios: it can't be used with one hand or put in a pocket, like credit card and barcode scanners. It can theoretically replace those types of devices, but not in every or even most circumstances. Further, the iPad isn't rugged enough to fit in everywhere: warehouses for inventory, field work, and medical or hospital environments for instance. That adds to the cost of converting a system to use the iPad. Who knows how much a medical-grade iPad case would cost, for instance.
The iPad and the iPhone themselves need a computer for OS upgrades, backups, and content synchronization, so Apple can't be too intent on getting rid of computers. I really think Apple's short term goals are to establish a market for electronic publications on a device with a long battery life that plays movies; basically, exactly what Steve Jobs has emphasized. Of course the iPad can and will do other things, but if it can't do the things Jobs wants it to do, he won't be pleased, I imagine.
I think we'll be seeing iPads in every museum and architecture and design firm within a year, though.

I think it's just a marketing strategy followed by YC. Because it's not that much easy for any one to be windows killer. May be YC will be successful in this strategy but he can attract only one age group particularly. I don't think it can cover up the whole market at all.

Please enough already with this *Killer garbage. This isn't a replacement for a desktop or laptop. It might be compete with netbooks but I want to see this thing released and then evaluate it when it's available and what applications it can run.

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